Full English Fry-Up at Owen and Engine
Owen & Engine's Full English Fry-Up ($15) does the classic one better by making the "tinned beans" from scratch (getting the flavors right is no easy feat), served in a white cup made to look like a can. The bangers are superb, as is the black pudding (a.k.a. blood sausage), which is creamy and rich and has far less barley or oat filler than what I've commonly found in England. The rest of the items on the plate, like most things at Owen & Engine, are all flawlessly executed. Read more here >>
Scotch Egg at Small Bar
The Scotch Egg ($10) from Small Bar is as outstanding as it looks and one of the better renditions I've had in Chicago. Small Bar gets it right by not hard boiling the egg before frying; instead, it comes to the table on a bed of braised escarole with the white just set and the yolk still a bit runny. Once you've had a Scotch Egg made this way, it all makes sense. Read more here >>
Today's Fish And Chips at The Gage
The Gage takes the time to do its fish and chips correctly, right down to the folded newspaper. The flaky white fish comes with a crust that is so crunchy, you can hear shatter from tables away. Yet, the fried exterior isn't greasy or overbearing, which is a tough balancing act. That you can sample one of the city's best fish and chips across the street from Millennium Park is just a bonus.
Bangers and Mash at Pleasant House
As Art Jackson describes the banger—and I'm in total agreement—it should be a "pleasurable" sausage to eat. Uncommonly juicy, yet not at all greasy, the flavor is mild and subtle. If you've never had proper bangers and mash, one of the great British culinary contributions to the world, head on over to Pleasant House and treat yourself to a plate. Read more here >>
Royal Pies at Pleasant House Bakery
While it's easy to get distracted by all the British dishes Pleasant House Bakery does so well, it's important to remember that the restaurant was founded on the strength and deliciousness of these pies. All the Royal Pies feature a flaky and crispy crust, along with a distinct filling. I have a hard time turning down the Steak and Ale Pie ($7.95), though the Mushroom and Kale Pie ($7.95) might be better. But I'll need to try both again to double check.
Bangers at Spencer's Bangers
Bangers are an interesting sausage that tend to be exceptionally soft and juicy. Nick Spencer, owner of Spencer's Bangers and the recently opened Spencer's Jolly Posh Foods, explained that "the perfect banger is the combo of the lovely soft texture combined with delicate herbs and seasonings," which described what he sells beautifully. They're stuffed into pork casings and are available with traditional spicing (ginger and nutmeg) as well as an herb version. Read more here >>
House Cut Chips at Owen and Engine
Not able to swing by Owen & Engine during brunch for the flawless fry-up? Well, that certainly isn't the only British option you have. Practically every dish on the dinner menu is worth your time, but whatever you choose, please make sure to get a side of the restaurant's exceptional house cut chips ($5) served with malt vinegar aioli. Crunchy and irregular on the outside, they are pillowy and soft within.
Egg Salad & Arugula Sandwich at Pret a Manger
Restaurants have been wrapping up sandwiches for years now, but no place has done it with the same care or attention as the London-based chain, Pret a Manger. Instead of piling the sandwiches with excessive vegetables or condiments, each creation is stripped down to its essential parts. Though many are good—our colleagues in the New York office even catalogued them all—none of the offerings brings to mind as many memories of London as the Egg Salad & Arugula. Sure, watercress is the usual flavorful green of choice over there instead of arugula, but the effect is the same: creamy chunks of egg salad, broken up by peppery greens.